Reporting from the Lausanne Palace Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland – Shouting the phrases “Free Tibet” and “No More Bloody Games” a small group of Tibetan protesters demonstrated outside the prestigious Lausanne Palace hotel Wednesday afternoon waving banners with slogans and bullet holes organized to mimic the Olympic rings.
But things became tense when one protester managed to make it into a secure area of the hotel where the Beijing 2022 bid committee was presenting exhibits to members of the media. He unfurled a banner with a “No Beijing 2022” message and started shouting slogans before being tackled to the ground by a bystander and carried out of the room.
Two other protesters unfurled banners in the busy hotel lobby filled with International Olympic Committee (IOC) members but were quickly apprehended by security personnel and police who escorted all three protesters to a holding room in the hotel. Reportedly, they were later released by police.
The Free Tibet movement actively protested against the Beijing 2008 Games for China’s repression in Tibet, most notably when they disrupted the international legs of the Torch Relay in cities including London and San Francisco. Due to this, the IOC no longer permits portions of the torch relay outside of the host nation.
Human rights groups have criticized both Beijing, and bid rival Almaty for their poor records and have urged the IOC not to award them the Games. Both bid committees said that IOC members did not ask them any human rights questions following formal presentations at the Olympic Museum Tuesday.
A press release by the International Tibet Network stated “Vice-Premier Liu Yandong of China’s State Council has been part of Beijing’s delegation in Lausanne. Her presence is a strong indication of the high political importance China places on winning the Games.”
The statement also referred to a quote that was published exclusively in a GamesBids.com article Tuesday based on an interview with Beijing 2022 Deputy Director Yan Lang who said “by hosting another Olympic Games it’s a great enhancement of human rights and social progress of China as a whole”.
The IOC will award the 2022 Games following a vote in Kuala Lumpur July 31.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.